Times Scribe Channels Mr. Shaqwell

Posted in Basketball, Fashion at 12:36 pm by

With the NBA’s imposition of a dress code looming, the New York Times’ Dennis Han, mindful of Shaquille O’Neal’s jibes towards Craig Sager, fantasizes about how the former might summarize the fashion styles of his peers.

O’Neal holds a master’s degree in law enforcement, so he’s a natural to walk the N.B.A.’s fashion-cop beat. Here are a few zingers Mr. Shaqwell might prepare for the league’s most notorious sartorial stinkers, all of whom are prime candidates for hefty dress-code fines.

* – With worn-out jeans and long, greasy hair, the Suns’ Stevie Nash (above, right) is a grungy nightmare.

* – A. I. (Allen Iverson) “keeps it real” with his gangsta attire, but if I said he looked sharp, I’d be a 7-foot liar.

* – Tim Duncan is to bland what tuna is to canned. He buys his threads at the Big & Tall store, in a special section marked “Dressed to Bore.”

* – Mark Cuban is rollin’ in dough, but his jock-wannabe jerseys scream “Just say no!”

* – Tom Tolbert’s turtleneck chic can’t disguise the fact he’s a pencil-neck geek.

Mr. Shaqwell might also pen a put-down of a coat-and-tie coach who, in more ways than one, simply doesn’t measure up: “The only thing sadder than vile Hack-a-Shaq is Jeff Van Gundy as a Munchkin in Black.”

Catty, to be sure. But Mr. Shaqwell would have a long way to go – and not just as a fashion critic. As Mr. Blackwell might say: “It’s not just his free throws that leave much to be desired. If he plays D like he disses, it’s time he retired!”

Heyman On Steinbrenner Paranoia and Vlad’s ALCS Disappearance

Posted in Baseball at 11:36 am by

Jon Heyman, in Sunday morning’s Newsday :

Things are getting really ugly at the top of the Yankees’ hierarchy. George Steinbrenner is said to suspect that the rips on him in a competing tabloid by Frank Torre and Don Zimmer were orchestrated by none other than Joe Torre. Just another sign that if Torre returns – and where else is he going? – he and Steinbrenner won’t be breaking bread at Malio’s anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Yankees people also are wondering if Torre is merely being dramatic in delaying his post-year comments. Although, in-house detractors hope he’s spending the extra time scanning the help-wanted ads. (The ad for his current job would go like this: Dream Job, Great Pay, Nightmare Boss.)

It’s getting so bad that one Yankees person blames Alex Rodriguez’s no-show performance on Torre, suggesting that Lou Piniella never would have stood for it.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is saying he’ll be “very involved,” which could mean one of Tommy Lasorda’s two choices (Orel Hershiser or Bobby Valentine) for manager has a shot over Paul DePodesta’s first choice (Terry Collins).

While the Dodgers might take a guy who was run out of Anaheim (Collins), they see longtime Dodger Mike Scioscia thrive 45 miles down I-5 every day.

Maybe this is the Vladimir Guerrero the Mets feared they might get when they declined to offer him a solid five-year deal. He looks hurt. He must be. He’s making A-Rod look like a playoff hero.

Frankly, I’m baffled as to how Vlad can’t solve the White Sox starters. Maybe it’s because they’re throwing strikes.

Robby : Minority Hiring Guidelines Are A Sham

Posted in Baseball at 9:58 am by

From the New York Times’ Murray Chass :

People on the minority watch are not impressed with developments in the managerial ranks in the first two weeks of postseason hiring. They have no reason to be impressed. A handful of minority candidates have been interviewed for vacancies, but there’s a sense that the interviews were intended simply to adhere to Commissioner Bud Selig’s six-and-a-half-year-old directive.

Frank Robinson, a veteran manager, is one of the closest watchers, and when he was asked about the Detroit Tigers’ hiring of Jim Leyland, he said: “They say they followed the commissioner’s guidelines. To me, the words of Dave Dombrowski, saying what he did about Leyland, shows Leyland was his guy all along. You have to draw your own conclusions.”

“They’re getting around it,” Robinson added, speaking not specifically of the Tigers but of teams in general. “They know who they want and they bring in a minority or two and interview them. They’re circumventing the policy. The commissioner’s office has to look at this and tighten the guidelines. They have to get more involved in the interview process, maybe have a representative from the commissioner’s office at the interviews.”

Robinson cited another way teams evade the policy. “They’re promoting from within without interviewing anybody, and that’s how they get around it,” he said.

Not that any of the three will have managerial jobs anytime soon, necessarily, but we do seem to read about Terry Collins and Jeff Torborg being under consideration far more often than say, Tony Perez.

Dropping A New Curtain – Bouchette On The Steeelers’ Superior DL

Posted in Gridiron at 9:46 am by

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette.

The league outlawed the head slap and essentially made offensive holding legal. Defensive backs no longer can mug a receiver until the ball’s thrown. Thus, defensive lines aren’t in position to maul, to dominate a game where the rules were altered to favor passing offenses.

So, along comes a three-man defensive line such as the Steelers’ with Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Kimo von Oelhoffen (above). Just try running against them. No one can.

They served as the lead actors that made the Steelers the toughest defense to run against in the NFL last season, and they head into the 1 p.m. kickoff today against the Jacksonville Jaguars without allowing a 100-yard rusher in the past 18 games, including two in the playoffs. It’s the longest current stretch of any NFL team.

You want a nickname? Von Oelhoffen, a 34-year-old veteran of 12 NFL seasons has it: The NFL’s best defensive line.

Among 3-4 lines?

“I believe among all,” he said.

Six days ago they stuffed the runner Bill Cowher called the best in the league, one defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau labeled among the best of all time. San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson, who had no fewer than 1,335 rushing yards in each of his past four seasons and led the AFC last week with 450 yards in four games, managed a mere 62 yards on 18 carries against the Steelers. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his first four games, 3.4 against the Steelers Monday night.

Lines in 3-4 defenses work in near anonymity, normally. Their jobs are to attract double-teams and allow the four linebackers to clean up. That’s one reason so many Pro Bowl linebackers passed through Pittsburgh during its 22 years playing the 3-4.

A funny thing happened to this group, though. The players are recognized. Hampton, a 330-pound gobbet with strength and quickness, made the Pro Bowl at nose tackle in 2003. A torn ACL ended last season after six games but he’s back in the middle. Smith, a 300-pounder at left end, made the Pro Bowl last season. Von Oelhoffen has been doing his thing in the league since 1994.

Ends are not supposed to lead 3-4 defenses in sacks. No lineman led the Steelers in sacks since Tim Johnson did so for the sad-sack 1988 outfit with four before von Oelhoffen did it with eight in 2003 and Smith with eight last season.

The Steelers will cope with Ben Rothlisberger’s absence today by handing their offense to a former league MVP. The league in question was the XFL, but there are worse backup options at QB than Tommy Maddox. Just ask Brooks Bollinger.

Vescey’s “Hoop Du Jour” = Rimshot City

Posted in Basketball at 9:09 am by

From Peter Vescey in Sunday’s NY Post :

Jerry West’s physical health (he has lost nearly 25 pounds) and mental state of mind (the Grizzlies have him excited) influenced the Memphis president not to call it a career after this year. It also didn’t hurt, I suspect, that owner Michael Heisley showed the League Logo a lotta love by aggressively recruiting him to extend for two years for the princely price of (educated speculation) $7M per. Terms were not disclosed, but it’s believed that 70 percent is going directly to West’s agent, Col. Tom Parker.

By the way, word has it Larry Brown’s numbers are $11M per and that’s not counting every conceivable perk, including use of a helicopter or jet on demand.

The Nets and Knicks played last night at Bridgeport, Conn. To make this usually mundane preseason game more interesting, Lawrence Frankincense and Next Town Brown made a wager: Whichever coach won, former Connecticut Governor John Rowland would repair his house.


Salutations To The Inventor Of Picture-In-Picture

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron, Sports TV at 8:03 pm by

The glory of modern technology enabled CSTB’s gleaming cathode ray to display Brad Lidge shutting the door on the Cardinals while simultaneously showing the Matt Leinart/Brady Quinn Death Match. Of the latter, I’ll say this much — the only reason that wasn’t one of the greatest college football games in history is ’cause there wasn’t a way for both SC and Notre Dame to lose.

(the Irish were one 4th and 9 away from toppling the two-time defending National Champs, but as you’ve probably figured out by now, Matt Leinart is the toughest ballroom dancer this side of Evander Holyfield. Tougher, maybe.)

For crazy early evening dramatics (I’m not even mentioning Penn State/Michigan on account of picture-in-picture-picture beyond a little too excessive, even in my delirious state), tonight was hard to beat. I’m sure the author of “Life As A Loser” would’ve done an excellent job live-blogging both, had anyone given him keys to the office.

This isn’t a great week to be a football team from Minnesota.

Hull Hangs Up Skates, Mouth To Continue Flapping

Posted in Hockey at 6:18 pm by

After a rough start to the ’05/06 season with Phoenix, Brett Hull, 3rd on the NHL All-Time scoring list with 741 career goals, is expected to announce his retirement tonight.

Hull, son of the Blackhawks legend Bobby, is best remembered for his 10 outstanding seasons at RW for the St. Louis Blues, followed by Stanley Cup winning campaigns with Dallas and Detroit.

His farewell press conference is scheduled for 8pm EST, and should be over sometime before midnight.

Pretending There’s A Higher Power That Gives A Shit About The NLCS

Posted in Baseball, Will Leitch Sucks at 5:21 pm by

Tara Dooley of the Houston Chronicle tests our faith in the power of daily newspapers not to suck like crazy with the following (link copped from Baseball Think Factory).

When looking for a comparison of spirit between the Astros and Cardinals, Teller is the guy to ask. The new rabbi at Congregation Brith Shalom arrived in Astros territory in July from, yes, St. Louis. He’s seen the Cardinals in action.

But as he watched those 18 innings against the Atlanta Braves Sunday, Teller saw ruach.

“It seems like the Astros have a significant edge on that after having won that final game in such a dramatic fashion,” Teller said.

Certainly there is a relationship between baseball and God, religious leaders say.

As the Rev. Chris Seay sees it, baseball is “profoundly spiritual.” It’s the pace, the anticipation, the longing, he said. Plus, the team has a full-time chaplain and a roster of players in touch with their spirituality.

“There is definitely a spiritual vibe going on with this team,” said Seay, who pastors Ecclesia in Montrose. He usually attends more than half the Astros home games during a season.

Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston sees God-given talent in the Astros lineup, including “some of the greatest pitchers alive in baseball today.”

“The Astros will win because they are great baseball players,” said Fiorenza, a longtime fan. “God has given them the talent to be excellent athletes.”

And there is always the old baseball-in-the-Bible joke, said Rabbi Avi Schulman of Congregation Beth El in Missouri City. It seems that the most fervent of baseball believers see a sign that God is also a fan in the very first line of Genesis: “In the big inning … ”

Oh, God cares about baseball, said Rabbi Howard Siegel, director of the Jewish Information Center of Houston. At least “to the extent that people have a natural need to compete.”

All this article was missing was an obligatory amendment of the Ten Commandments.

“Thou Shalt Not Steal (Just Ask Billy Beane)”
“Thou Shall Not Covet Kris Benson’s Wife”,
“Thou Shall Not Worship Any Graven Image (ie. The Pfizer Comeback Player Of The Year Award), etc.”

Thou I’m not a religious man, if there is a God, I’d like to think that he or she has more crucial matters to tend to than MLB’s post-season. Besides turning Will Leitch into a pillar of salt, that is. Though based on today’s events thus far, it would appear as though Mike Lamb has made a pact with the devil.

Brewers Contemplate Little Addition

Posted in Baseball at 4:50 pm by

The Boston Globe’s Jeff Horrigan writes that Milwaukee might be hiring former Red Sox manager Grady Little as their new bench coach.

(Grady, just about ready to take Pedro out…any minute now)

Little, who averaged 94 regular-season wins (188-136) during his two years as Boston manager, has spent the past two seasons working for the Chicago Cubs as a roving catcher instructor and a special assistant to general manager Jim Hendry. The Brewers, who finished 81-81 to end their 12-year string of losing seasons, dismissed bench coach Rich Dauer and third base coach Rich Donnelly after the final game.

Manager Ned Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Little is “somebody I’ve had contact with.”

Little and Yost are close friends. They managed together in the Atlanta Braves minor league system and were roommates during spring training.

Hawks’ Jason Collier, RIP

Posted in Basketball at 2:07 pm by

The AP is reporting that Atlanta center Jason Collier (Georgia Tech) suffered a fatal cardiac arrest earlier today.

Collier, the 15th overall draft pick in 2000, was 28 years old.

College Football – It’s Swaggertastic

Posted in Gridiron at 11:01 am by

With their unexpected 6-0 start, the swagger is most certainly back for Penn State and their 8 thousand year old coach Joe Paterno writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dan Majors.

Not to be outdone, the Bruins of UCLA possess the swagger that Washington State dearly covets, says the Seattle Times’ Craig Smith.

After consecutive Pac 10 losses, The Tacoma News Tribune’s Darrin Beene is also focused on the Cougars’ Swagger-deficiency.

If WSU is trying to locate their missing Swagger, they need look no further than Iowa City, where Indiana will “bring 4-1 record, swagger” to today’s contest with the Hawkeyes writes the Des Moines Register’s Andrew Logue.

Griffin On College Football’s Never-Ending Games

Posted in Gridiron at 10:38 am by

From the San Antonio Express News’ Tim Griffin.

Forgive Texas Tech coach Mike Leach if he would like to spend his entire Saturday calling plays from the sideline.

Understand that Leach is apart from growing sentiment in college football that games are stretching too long. If there is any doubt, just watch a complete game or two.

Because of more passing, more scores, longer halftime breaks, more commercials and replay stoppages, some college football games are stretching more than four hours. And Leach can’t get enough.

“I’ve heard people squawking about it,” Leach said. “But I have virtually no concern how long games are. If they were an hour longer, that would suit me just fine.”

But other coaches aren’t as enlightened as Leach ” or must have dinner plans after their games.

Big Ten and national coordinator of officials David Parry said he is hearing more complaints about how much longer college football games are.

“I hear it from people all across the country,” Parry said. “I was talking with (Indiana coach) Terry Hoeppner the other day. He told me that one game lasted so long that one of his players started the game as a freshman and was a sophomore by the time it ended.”

While Hoeppner’s claim was exaggerated, the modern game does lend itself to more offense. And as offenses have improved, more plays have been crammed into a typical 60-minute game.

The college game stretches longer than the NFL because the clock stops after a team has made a first down. The clock remains stopped until the ball is spotted and the next play begins.

College football has never taken the drastic steps taken by the NFL, which in recent years has passed rules to compress its typical game into about three hours.

In the NFL, the clock continues to run on first downs if a ball carrier is tackled inbounds. The clock also restarts on a kickoff return, a player going out of bounds on a play from scrimmage and after declined penalties, except in the final two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.

Those changes allow a college game to average about 165 plays from scrimmage ” about 14 more than in an NFL game.

Leach blasts the NFL for using a “fast clock” because of the lack of natural stoppages.

“I always thought it was incredibly ridiculous,” Leach said. “The notion of artificially shortening games is crazy.”

Crazy, perhaps. But given that this man might be calling the game, it might also be entirely neccessary, if not humane.

I Can Hear The Grass Grow : Irish Groundskeepers Take The Week Off

Posted in Gridiron at 10:29 am by

From the LA Times’ Gary Klein :

Top-ranked USC does not play ninth-ranked Notre Dame until today, but the gamesmanship began Friday when the Trojans trod through thick, ankle-deep grass during their walk-through at Notre Dame Stadium.

“Nice,” middle linebacker Oscar Lua said of the nearly four-inch turf. “It looks like my front yard.”

Coach Pete Carroll characterized the field’s condition as “a sign of respect” for his speedy team, which is riding a 27-game winning streak that includes a 45-14 victory here in 2003.

“This is a nice reception,” Carroll said, adding that his team embraced the field conditions in much the same way the Trojans reveled in bad weather last season at Washington State.

Asked if Notre Dame had intentionally let the grass grow to slow the Trojans, Doug Walker, associate sports information director, did not flinch. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

I Have No Idea What’s Happening Here

Posted in Baseball at 10:04 am by

…but if it helps Lance Berkman prepare to beat the Cardinals and bring further gloom to America’s Greatest Baseball Fans, I’m not gonna argue.

ALCS Game 3 : Garland’s Gem, Thomas Wants To Return

Posted in Baseball, Football at 9:45 am by

White Sox 5, Angels 2

If last night is any indication of what Jon Garland can do on 13 days’ rest, imagine how devestating he’d be if he took the whole summer off?

Speaking of those who’ve had some downtime, it is also tempting to imagine how much better the already impressive White Sox would be if a healthy Frank Thomas was in the middle of the batting order. The thought has probably occured to the Big Hurt a few dozen times, as he’s already lobbying for a new deal at a time when no one wants to talk about it.

Though you’d think a convincing White Sox performance would deny the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti another chance to needle the club, even a crucial road win isn’t enough for Tony Curtis’ evil twin to resist taking a Ligue.

Another Sox victory only aggravated the home fans, who didn’t feel like forgetting the Third-Strike Mechanic That Wasn’t. As the right-field umpire on this night, though you might say he was straight out of left field, Eddings was torched by boos when he trotted to his position. Every time a ball was hit foul down the line, the nearby fans screamed — “You [bleep]! You [bleep]!” — and waved their annoying ThunderStix. One of the beach balls came close to nailing him, which, I suppose, beats William Ligue charging out of the stands with his son to tackle the first-base umpire. Nonetheless, Eddings was quickly flanked by security people after every half-inning.

When the struggling Vlad Guerrero struck out swinging to end a two-run sixth, fans started chanting, “Run! Run! Run!” to their slugger. Garland stopped temporarily, wonndering what the fuss was about, then realized this was hometown sarcasm at work.

Or desperation.

Pierzynski somehow caught guff for his heads-up hustle from Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke, who wrote: “Would any of this have happened if Pierzynski wasn’t one of the game’s biggest irritants? A guy who probably ran to first base not just to win a game, but because it involved the added bonus of ticking somebody off?” I’m not sure how a guy trying to make a clever play to win a postseason game catches hell.

I read somewhere that Tadahito Iguchi’s relatively cheap deal was in some way related to US clubs’ reluctance to cough up serious cash in the wake of Kaz Matsui’s struggles with the Mets. Not that such a thing makes any more sense than the entire nation of Japan questioning our physical fitness based on the sole example of Bob Horner, but Iguchi had the sort of Game 3 in the field, at the plate and on the basepaths that Jeff Wilpon and his lovely wife must’ve envisioned Matsui having on a regular basis.

I dunno about you, but I’m blown away that Doug Eddings managed to serve as RF umpire last night and still make it to the JJB Stadium to referee this morning’s Wigan/Newcastle match. Josh Paul and Alan Shearer will be comparing notes, just as soon as the latter finds someone to read out loud to him.


Too Much Monkey Business : Kings’ Avery Denies Racial Abuse

Posted in Hockey, Racism Corner at 11:09 pm by

From the Canadian Press :

Kings winger Sean Avery denies ever directing a racial slur at Oilers tough guy Georges Laraque in a game this week.

Laraque, who is black, told reporters in Edmonton on Thursday that Avery called him a “monkey” during Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles.

“(He) fabricated the whole thing,” Avery (above) said in Friday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Laraque, who is black, told reporters in Edmonton on Thursday that Avery called him a “monkey” during Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles.

“I have no idea why he would do that,” he added. “I heard about it after the game and was surprised.”

Laraque was singing a different tune Thursday.

“I knew the league wouldn’t be able to do anything because there were no witnesses, but you want to tell them in case it ever happens in the future,” Laraque told reporters in Edmonton, standing by his story. “I’m not deaf.

“I heard it or I wouldn’t have (reported it). This is pretty serious stuff, something you don’t play around with.”.

Avery was admonished by the NHL last month for comments he made regarding French players who play a tough game but wear visors, after Phoenix’s Denis Gauthier levelled teammate Jeremy Roenick.

Avery said the play was “typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough but not backing anything up.”

Laraque’s Oilers dropped to 3-2 on the season, losing tonight in Edmonton to Dallas, 3-2.

Highlights From A Gushy, Displaced Cards Fan’s Writing Portfolio

Posted in Baseball, Will Leitch Sucks at 9:55 pm by

Will Leitch’s love letter to the St. Louis Cardinals in last October’s Wall Street Journal is a neat little piece of revisionist history.

Larry Walker has played major league baseball since 1989, hit 378 home runs and once even volunteered to play for the Canadian national team, which is insane even though he is, in fact, Canadian. Considered one of baseball’s most respected stars, he turned down countless trade requests from contenders wanting to get him out of Colorado, citing his no-trade clause and love for Denver. Until this year, when the St. Louis Cardinals came calling. Walker, a family man, extremely popular in Colorado, reconsidered immediately. “My wife had a lot to do with it,” he said. “I told her about it, and she started crying before I even said yes.” In his first at-bat, Walker received a standing ovation. He struck out. He then received another one. “It was amazing,” Walker said.

Indeed, what could be more heartwarming or classy than Walker, earning nearly $13 million at the time, accepting a trade from the last place Rockies to the first place Cardinals.

The fans support their Cardinals no matter how they’re playing. They are not fickle; just loyal. How long do you think a tortured soul like Rick Ankiel would have survived in New York or Boston? Five wild pitches in a postseason game? A complete meltdown on the grandest scale? They would have set him on fire — at best. In St. Louis, he was never booed or blasted on talk radio. Fans were actually worried about him. After a three-year sojourn in the minor-league and rehab wilderness, Ankiel returned in September of this season. Hard feelings? Of course not. He received a deafening standing ovation in his first game back, an ovation that took so long the umpires actually stopped the game.

Had the Cardinals given the enigmatic hurler another opportunity to hit the screen above the backstop in a crucial situation — as opposed to say, a meaningless appearance long after the division race had been decided, perhaps then we’d see how forgiving the saintly fans of St. Louis really are. Of course, as well all know, Ankiel has long since retired from pitching, so we’ll never find out.

The Cardinals are everything that is right about America: modest, professional (watch Rolen when he hits a home run; he just puts his head down and runs to first, just punching in, doing his job) and based in the fundamentals of hard work and rock-solid consistency. And not a single player on the team has hair that looks like a Simpsons character.

I don’t doubt that the good people of St. Louis — the same fans that packed the joint to watch the world class fraud Mark McGwire erase Roger Maris from the record books — are a slavish, unquestioning lot who love their team to death. But does Tony La Russa really represent “everything that is right about America” nearly as much as he exemplifies self importance and self interest? Does the filthy-capped Julian Tavares (recent career highlights have included breaking his own hand, Kevin Brown-style, and the attempted murder of Mike Piazza) represent modesty and professionalism, or does he possess the sort of emotional maturity that makes Ron Artest seem reasonable by comparison?

Finally, nowhere in Leitch’s nonsensical spiel does he try to explain how America’s so-called Greatest Fans can possibly tolerate this :

Or this :

I have no serious grudge against St. Louis. Were it not for the club’s strong midwestern values, the Mets would’ve never acquired Keith Hernandez for the mere price of Neil Allen. And despite the fact that Leitch has proven to be as objective as he is talented, I’m seriously thinking of taking up a collection to fly him to St. Louis so he can witness Mike Doskocil’s number being retired.

Exclaiming “Yahoo” To The Demise Of Chief Wahoo

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner at 6:14 pm by

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Roger Brown :

Don’t be surprised if Indians management keeps quietly phasing out the team’s offensive Chief Wahoo logo simply by gradually reducing its stock of Wahoo items in club shops and Jacobs Field concession stands. The Indians clearly aren’t hurting from phasing out Wahoo: In 2004, they recorded $2.165 million in merchandise sales at Jacobs Field, up from $1.81 million in 2003. The 2005 merchandise concession sales should be even higher when they’re eventually revealed.

Brown neglects to mention that plans for Cleveland to introduce a new mascot based on a popular local icon (above) still require approval from MLB’s marketing department.

The Resurgence of The NFC East

Posted in Gridiron at 5:41 pm by

The Newark Star-Ledger’s Paul Nedell on the NFL’s once and future power division.

Just think: Teams from the NFC East have won 10 of the 39 Super Bowls, but none of the past nine. No other division, however, has won more than six.

The 1995 Cowboys were the last NFC East team to turn the trick. Dallas, the Giants and Redskins have floundered, up and down, since — the Giants lost the Super Bowl to the Ravens in the 2000 season — while the Eagles have risen to be the only consistent power of late.

This season already has a different feel. Maybe the Eagles (3-2), after four straight trips to the NFC title game and a Super Bowl loss, have slipped a bit. Maybe not. More importantly, the Giants (3-1), Redskins (3-1) and Cowboys (3-2) have the look of being the real deal once again.

Which means Giants vs. Cowboys at Texas Stadium on Sunday is an old-time matchup worth getting stoked over.

“Is the NFC East back?” Jerry Jones said the other day from his office in Irving, Texas. “Let me just say this: ‘Yes.’ The NFC East is back in vogue.”

Perhaps some of the euphoria by Jones stems from the 33-10 shellacking the Cowboys put on the Eagles last Sunday. But it’s more than that.

There is real evidence that the division that gave us Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith, Lawrence Taylor (above) and Phil Simms, Joe Theismann and John Riggins — and all those championships — is rising up again.

Who didn’t expect Parcells to put together a winning program, especially now that he has seemingly rejuvenated quarterback Drew Bledsoe? Are the Redskins, behind three-time Super Bowl winner Joe Gibbs, that much of a shock?

Giants coach Tom Coughlin may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the man can coach, and has been supplied with a potential star quarterback in Eli Manning. Add those three coaches to Philadelphia’s Andy Reid and you’ve got a fearsome foursome Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen would admire.

How strong any of the above would look if they had to play New England or Pittsburgh twice a year, is of course, not mentioned. And yeah, Dallas’ early success is a bit of a surprise given Bledsoe’s poor finale in Buffalo. And no one who saw the Redskins’ offense struggle through their first 117 minutes of regular season football would’ve called them a contender for anything other than a threat to Joe Gibbs’ health.

Boat Company Lawyer Admits Taking A Peak During Fred Smoot’s Sex Cruise

Posted in Gridiron at 3:46 pm by

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Paul McEnroe and Pat Doyle.

(Charter company lawyer Stephen) Doyle said not all of the players on the list have been accused by crew members of lewd behavior. He said some crew members told of players protecting others on the crew and apologizing for the behavior of teammates. However, other players tried to turn off the lights on one of the boats or persuade crew members to perform in a sexual manner, he said.

Some crew members came forward about three days after the cruise to report their accusations to authorities.

Doyle said several factors explained the delay. After the boats returned to dock and guests departed, the crew had to clean the boat, he said, finding “used rubbers, K-Y Jelly, Handi Wipes, wrappers for sex toys – it was just incredible how it was left.”

“Never in the history of this group of people have they ever had anything like this,” Doyle said. He said they didn’t know if a crime had been committed or whether they were expected to tolerate the players’ behavior. “These are very powerful and rich people, intimidating in size,” he said.

I’ve watched every episode of “Playmakers” at least twice, and I don’t remember any action taking place on a boat.

This Is What He’d Call A Pop Culture Reference

Posted in Blogged Down, Will Leitch Sucks at 2:30 pm by

From the terminally unfunny “sports” website that you’re all too well aware of :

We are hoping that the emergence of Astros youngster Chris Burke in this postseason brings us one step close to the holy grail: œLife Goes On being released on DVD. Honestly, like you wouldn™t have viewing parties.

Since a few of CSTB’s readers have actually done something with their lives other than watch crap television, I’ll explain the above item for you.

Chris Burke is the name of the Houston Astros’ second baseman, currently having a terrific postseason in this, only his 2nd year in the big leagues.

Chris Burke also shares a name with the actor who played the part of Corky Thatcher on the ABC drama “Life Goes On”. Both Burke (above) and the character he played were born with Downs Syndrome.

“Life Goes On” wasn’t a particularly good show, though Burke was no more or less annoying than any number of other persons on network TV who weren’t born with Downs Syndrome. In the face of life’s challenges, Burke has managed to fashion an acting / music career of sorts, one that compares pretty favorably to that of an unsuccesful novelist/ incompetent website editor.

I’m happy I was able to straighten that one out for you. Other than that, it’s been another tremendous 9-5 over at the unsuccessful marriage of The Sports Frog and Items Marked “Spy Magazine Kill Fee”. Apparently, there’s a White Supremacist sports site on the internet (attention readers, racists are very, very bad people. But it’s ok to laugh at Down’s Syndrome) and it’s a good thing LeBron got out of the hospital today because “if James had been out for too long, this NBA season was in serious danger of sucking before it even started.” You might find some fans in San Antonio, Detroit or Miami that would beg to differ.

Macha/A’s, Break Up Leads To Make Up

Posted in Baseball at 2:03 pm by

Proving that the A’s rumored interest in Larry Bowa was the 2nd greatest conceptual stunt to emerge from the Bay Area (the first being JT Leroy’s rise to prominence — and has anyone ever seen JT and Larry Bowa in the same room?), Oakland has signed manager Ken Macha to a 3 year extension.

But What About Foxy Boxing?

Posted in Boxing, Religion at 1:17 pm by

From Catholic World News :

The semi-official Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica has called for a ban on professional boxing, saying that the sport is “merciless and inhuman.”

The editorial in Civilta Cattolica compared boxing to the ancient combat between gladiators, noting that 500 fighters have died of injuries sustained in the ring. Even if he is not seriously injured in a bout, the magazine said, a battered boxer always “carries the signs of death in his body, on his face, and particularly in his soul.”

The sport survives, the magazine argued, only because of an unhealthy public interesting violence, which enables “cruel” promoters to draw profit from the suffering of the combatants. While acknowledging that the same commercial forces would make it difficult to enact a legal ban, the editorial says that boxing “violats the natural and divine moral precept against killing.”

Editorials in Civilta Cattolica are regarded as particularly authoritative, because they are cleared in advance by the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Makes sense to me, though I’m surprised Roy Jones Jr.’s last fight against Antonio Tarver wasn’t characterized as assisted suicide.

D-Rays Prospect Fucks Up Elbow

Posted in Baseball at 12:17 pm by

The end of the regular season means that daily bits of devestating news for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have slowed to a crawl, but as Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports, time doesn’t stand still for MLB’s most unlucky franchise.

The Devil Rays made Wade Townsend (above) their top 2005 draft pick hoping he could could make up for the year he missed because of a contract standoff with the Orioles.

Now the former Rice pitcher is likely to miss another full year after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

Townsend will be examined next week by Rays orthopedic physician Koco Eaton and seems headed for Tommy John surgery, which would probably sideline him until spring training 2007.

After signing a minor-league deal for around $1.5-million, Townsend pitched in 12 games for the Class A Hudson Valley team, going 0-4 with a 5.49 ERA while missing some time with a stiff neck. His injury was diagnosed after he made one fall league appearance, pitching two innings Oct. 7 for Phoenix.

The Rays drafted Townsend to pair with former Rice teammate Jeff Niemann, their top 2004 pick, but have not gotten much return.

Niemann, who signed for a guaranteed $5.2-million, has been sidelined by continuing shoulder problems, and has also missed time with elbow and groin injuries. After missing all of 2004 because of a contract dispute, Niemann was 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 11 minor-league games in 2005.

Simers Accosts Embattled Ump At The Airport

Posted in Baseball at 8:37 am by

Full credit to the LA Times’ TJ Simers for somehow finding a way to take a gratuitous shot at the Dodgers while harrassing umpire Doug Eddings.

On the flight between Chicago and John Wayne Airport on Thursday morning, they were showing the movie “Young Frankenstein,” and an American Airlines spokesperson, who also claimed to be an Angel fan, said it had nothing to do with the fact that umpire Doug Eddings was on the plane.

Eddings was sitting in first class, but for the record I never asked him whether it was compliments of the White Sox.We did, however, get around to everything else in a baggage-carousel meeting along with four or five other reporters after his game-changing performance in Game 2 of the American League championship series.

Was it Pierzynski’s acting job that influenced Eddings, and if so, then does that make Josh Paul a bad actor ” apparently not convincing enough in his quick exit, which should have told the umpire he had caught the ball?

“I did see it [bounce], but sometimes the things you see and the things you realize, you question yourself,” Eddings said, and I was actually writing this stuff down. “But like I said, sometimes you don’t do anything and that’s why I didn’t do anything, because I did see it. I felt and I still do, the ball bounced. I was just caught off guard with [Paul] running to the dugout.”

And if you understand that explanation, I think we’ve identified a new spokesman for the Dodgers.